Insulin resistance progressing to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is marked by a broad perturbation of macronutrient intermediary metabolism. Understanding the biochemical networks that underlie metabolic homeostasis and how they associate with insulin action will help unravel diabetes etiology and should foster discovery of new biomarkers of disease risk and severity. We examined differences in plasma concentrations of.350 metabolites in fasted obese T2DM vs. obese non-diabetic African-American women, and utilized principal components analysis to identify 158 metabolite components that strongly correlated with fasting HbA1c over a broad range of the latter (r =20.631; p,0.0001). In addition to many unidentified small molecules, specific metabolites that were increased significantly in T2DM subjects included certain amino acids and their derivatives (i.e., leucine, 2-ketoisocaproate, valine, cystine, histidine), 2-hydroxybutanoate, long-chain fatty acids, and carbohydrate derivatives. Leucine and valine concentrations rose with increasing HbA1c, and significantly correlated with plasma acetylcarnitine concentrations. It is hypothesized that this reflects a close link between abnormalities in glucose homeostasis, amino acid catabolism, and efficiency of fuel combustion in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. It is speculated that a mechanism for potential TCA cycle inefficiency concurrent with insulin resistance is "anaplerotic stress" emanating from reduced amino acid-derived carbon flux to TCA cycle intermediates, which if coupled to perturbation in cataplerosis would lead to net reduction in TCA cycle capacity relative to fuel delivery.
Fiehn, O., Timothy Garvey, W., Newman, J. W., Lok, K. H., Hoppel, C. L., & Adams, S. H. (2010). Plasma metabolomic profiles reflective of glucose homeostasis in non-diabetic and type 2 diabetic obese African-American women. PLoS ONE, 5(12), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0015234